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Procurement e-briefing - August 2012

  • Ireland
  • General

24-08-2012

Public Procurement - National Procurement Service Framework Agreements   (Circular 06/12)

On 25 July the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform issued a circular and guidance note to Government Departments regarding the use of centralised framework agreements (the “Circular”).  The Public Service Reform Plan recommended increased use of collaborative procurement arrangements across the public sector to secure value for money in public sector purchasing.

The purpose of the Circular is to inform public bodies of the requirement to utilise central contracts, put in place by the National Procurement Service (“NPS”), when procuring commonly acquired goods and services.

The NPS was established in 2009 with the aim of leveraging the public services buying power to obtain better value for money.  The Circular states that, as there has been a low uptake of NPS arrangements in certain sectors, the Government has decided it is now mandatory for public sector bodies to use the NPS arrangements.

The NPS arrangements focus on the procurement of goods and services that are commonly used across the public service. Appendix 1 to the Circular identifies the categories that are initially to be subject to the mandatory arrangements. These include stationary and office supplies, paper, janitorial supplies and managed print services.

The Circular states that the NPS will work with contracting authorities where additional categories of goods or services are proposed to be included in mandatory arrangements. This is to ensure that stakeholders are adequately consulted at an early stage in the procurement process.  This is important and should be availed of by contracting authorities so that any particular concerns or interests can be taken on-board at an early stage.

The Circular is also a reminder that the existing mandatory arrangements, set out in Department of Finance Circulars 2/09 and 2/11, (IT and telecommunication framework agreements), continue to apply. Where goods and services are not subject to any such mandatory arrangements at national level, the NPS intends to work with other public service bodies to facilitate collaborative purchasing.

It is stated in the Circular that the process of implementing mandatory arrangements for the NPS frameworks will proceed on an incremental basis. Where a contract is already in place with a public body for the categories of goods and services covered by the mandatory arrangements, the public service body will transition to the NPS arrangements on the expiry of the contract currently in place.

The Circular requires that where a public service body purchases goods or services other than from the NPS frameworks after the implementation date for its sector, it will need to explain the rationale for not using the NPS arrangements. The public service body will have to demonstrate a value for money justification that takes account of the full costs incurred in managing its own procurement process. Public service bodies will also be required to provide details of internal controls in place to ensure compliance.

A full list of all mandatory arrangements, along with their corresponding implementation dates, can be found in Appendix 1 of the Circular (available at http://www.procurement.ie/publications/circular-0612-public-procurement-framework agreements). The NPS has in place a range of other centralised arrangements, which while not mandatory to use, may also be availed of by public service bodies, details of which can be found at www.procurement.ie.


Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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